another trip around the sun.

there is a blue sky and a cool breeze. there is a cat rubbing it’s head against my wet showered hair. there is a long sun porch with a flowered couch and big windows and a weathered arm chair with my bones flopped in it. there is a fading fiddle fig and a family of rabbits. right above me the holy spirit helper dances in the wind.

earlier this week i celebrated another trip around the sun. i travelled hours and miles through traffic jams and storm clouds and best-in-show sunsets so i could mark the occasion in an unfamiliar town with some of the humans i love the most in this world. it’s good. it’s really good. and by good, i mean incredible. and by “it”, i mean everything.

i have shared slow mornings with cooked breakfasts / eaten gooseberry strawberry crumble / walked on the ocean floor in my bare feet through slick brown mud / sat in the hot seat / snuggled bright eyed little ones / laughed / stuffed myself with lobster + scallops + calamari + salmon + cod + haddock in all forms and flavours / drank bottomless pots of earl grey / laughed more / shared stories/ drank truth serum / walked summer sidewalks / bought jam + cookies from an old couple on a country road in a 200+ year old house full of latch rugs and stories / stayed up late/ slept in / dined on ethiopian / devoured chocolate sea salt brownies + an almond croissant / fallen into bed full and tired at the end of every single day.

birthdays have always filled me with gratitude. i’m alive, right? that’s all the reason i need to blow up some balloons and eat cake. but i’ve noticed these last few years that my relationship with time and ageing is changing. i don’t know if it’s that time feels more like dry sand running through my fingertips, or if i’ve just weakened in my grip. i only know it moves faster than it used to. the future feels closer. the past feels complicated. i have moments where i feel like i have lived lives within lives – where my own stories read like fictions, movies i’ve watched so many times i know the scripts by heart but i no longer feel them as my own.

these last few days spent in this sun porch house have held countless hours of conversations and questions. our small lifetimes packed with silences and observations, things felt but never named, loose threads – they’ve been hacked at with a scalpel and exposed to open air (usually after sunset, around the kitchen table, once the kids are in bed). getting older is a weird trip. that day when you wake and suddenly realize you are the age you so clearly remember your parents being when you were a kid. that mirror that confronts you every morning with your body, more woman than girl now, more fleshy and tired and stubborn than you surely ever thought possible. the arrival of alzheimers in the family. the scare of cancer. the birth of children. the way perspective changes and relationships shift and nothing really feels like it used to and some of that is way better and some it is way harder and a lot of it is just plain different.

as i said, getting older is a weird trip. it’s kinda harsh. and kind of amazing.

those hours spent around the table this week,  talking and naming and shaking out the ghosts, they’ve left me feeling a lot of things. mostly gratitude. but also some clarity, and maybe a bit more courage too.

i want time to keep shaking me into wakefulness.

i want to loosen some baggage and keep lightening my load.

i want to name the ghosts in the closet.

i want to hold it all with more gentleness.

every year, every day, i feel like i settle into my own weathered skin a little bit more – which is grossly painful sometimes, but liberating nonetheless. this old armchair cradles my bones just right, which makes me think that i’m exactly where i need to be, in this breezy porch on this blue sky day, in this year of living with with all it’s whispered truths and frayed edges, the holy spirit helper shaking her rainbow feathers above my damp and cat kissed head. i’m not sure i know what any of it really means, but i’m here and i’m thankful. and that’s more than enough.

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annual birthday leap + dance photo shoot, this time in a crooked british burial ground in New Brunswick. because life’s too short not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sucking the marrow

it’s one of those days where i wake up to a sore belly and a dead bird and a cup of tea and a cooler breeze and a sad dog and a box of memories and a gnawing ache that i’ve got something to say.

 

upward on its heavenly oils

horizon - r.kennedy

in my suitcase i crammed one of my books of Mary Oliver’s poetry: New and Selected Poems, Volume One. i decided to read one poem a day, starting with the first page and reading my way through in order. i never read Mary that way. i rarely read any poetry that way. i flip and jump from middle to end. it felt important to limit myself to just ONE a day too – which is really hard to do if you’re me. but i wanted to learn how to really sit with the poem…not run off to fall in love with another one. and it has been good. i have savoured lines more deeply and read the same poem more repeatedly.

just now, sitting in the garden at dusk, i read my today poem…while the southern-hemisphere-sun sets around me and prepares to rise back home in the north. and it was all too perfect not to share.

The Sun

Have you ever seen

anything

in your life

more wonderful

 

than the way the sun,

every evening,

relaxed and easy,

floats toward the horizon

 

and into the clouds or the hills,

or the rumpled sea,

and is gone –

and how it slides again

 

out of the blackness,

every morning,

on the other side of the world,

like a red flower

 

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,

say, on a morning in early summer,

at its perfect imperial distance –

and have you ever felt for anything

 

such wild love –

do you think there is anywhere, in any language,

a word billowing enough

for the pleasure

 

that fills you,

as the sun

reaches out,

as it warms you

 

as you stand there,

empty-handed –

or have you too

turned from the world –

 

or have you too

gone crazy

for power,

for things?

 

– Mary Oliver

real magic

i’m sitting at a card table pushed up against a window that’s pushed up against cedar trees. i watch the squirrels be squirrels, and every once and a while, a chickadee passes through, and i feel like i have a secret portal window into their cedar tree world.
i couldn’t sleep last night. crawled into bed tired then became suddenly awake. after awake time rolled from parts of hours to multiple hours, i made toast and hot water + milk and read a book. The Gallery of Lost Species by Nina Berkhout. it has a unicorn on the cover which is possibly why i spontaneously grabbed it from the New Arrivals wall of my village library. i don’t think i’ve ever read a book with a unicorn on the cover, but i wrote one once when i was in grade 3. i also really liked the quote on the inside cover:

“Real magic can never be made by offering up someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.”
– Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

i took a long walk to the dentist this morning. i mostly dread the dentist, even though this guy is probably the nicest one around. they put sunglasses on me, turned on Father of the Bride 2, and froze half of my face. an hour and a half later, i paid them money i don’t really have and walked home kicking leaves, trying not to drool. i never did find out how the movie ends.

on my slobbery walk home i stopped in the used book store. the last few years have been mostly about letting go rather than acquiring, so i haven’t spent much time scouring bookshops in a while. in fact the woman at the counter made it clear to me that i hadn’t used any of my store credit since 2013. but today it seemed like a good place to be while my face thawed, and i remembered what a wonderland a second-hand book shop is. dog-eared corners, highlights and underlines, scribbles in the margins. i pay extra for that sort of thing. it didn’t take long to build a stack in my hand, but i held myself to the 3-for-the-price-of-2 deal and showed some self control. my treasures? Flannery O’Connor to travel with me across the hemisphere in a couple of months; Witold Rybczynski and his Most Beautiful House in The World to mail to a friend; and a pocket sized Carl Sagan, because he wonders about things that fill me with wonder. i will go back again soon and unearth some more gems.

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan
……………………….

its election day here in Canada. i should probably be ashamed of all the ways i feel un-informed. but i’m working hard on self-acceptance so i’m not going to go there. instead i will just tell you how i took all of my fragments of understanding, and all the un-quantifiable feelings i have in my gut, and i cast my ballot before i stuffed my face with turkey dinner, during the advance voting last weekend. and it felt good. there was no fanfare, barely even a line-up, and everyone was pretty keep-to-themselves about the whole affair. but i felt really good. and really grateful. its a taken-for-granted right + privilege. i hope you do it too.

the wind is moving through the cedar trees. i’m sipping ginger ale + o.j. through a straw and i can almost feel a bit of my lips again. in another hour or so i’m hoping i can eat. the sidewalks around here are honestly thick with leaves. if summer is the season of aliveness, fall is the season of glory. so much glory. so much beauty. no matter the politics. no matter the drool. makes me want to tear out my liver and bear witness to the magic. or at least try to tell you about it.

unicorns. scientists. frozen tongues. scribbles on paper. X marks the spot. how about we just say something today. me + you. whatever is in us to say. it’s easier than losing your liver. it’s just as glorious as fallen leaves.
it’s magic. real magic.
and it feels really good.

xx

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the path between two houses

granny + me

 

i’ve been missing that laughing lady a lot lately.

how long has she been gone now? 5 years? 6 years? i stopped counting.

but still some days i wake up longing for her company. sometimes i close my eyes and try to remember every detail i can about her:

like the way she clapped her hands with happiness + the softness of her skin + the way she kept finding new things to talk about so you’d never leave the room + catching her in the bathroom without her teeth in + the book and bible and scrap paper and book of crosswords that always sat beside her in her chair + the kleenex stuffed up her sleeve + her smile + the childlike glimmer that stayed in her eyes + her laugh + the way she always listened and always wanted to know + her love that left no room for doubt…

the more time passes the more i seem to miss her. as though my growing up makes the space she left behind grow too.

memory is a strange animal. grief an even wilder beast.

……

there’s a path between two houses

you used to run it as a child. barefoot, eyes closed, your bones knew the way.

it was a path from home, to home. it was the way that lead to everything you need.

there’s a path between two houses that runs across a piece of land that tells a story so deep and so wide, no passerby or outsider could begin to understand. you were gifted to this place. it has taken up residence in you. this is a truth that can not be severed.

like a winged migration, sometimes the change in season calls us home. sometimes the longing takes over, the ache becomes almost unbearable.

sometimes if we close our eyes, our feet will find their own way home. soles pounding through long grass, past big trees, taking us eyes-closed, wind-through-hair, barrelling down the path toward exactly what we need…and only our bodies will wake from this blessed dream.

our wild, grieving, animal hearts will  keep on running, will keep on moving toward the outstretched arms of our belonging…

each mad heart silent, a brilliant music stilled.

making a list is all about not knowing where to start with the words in your brain and the rumbles in your bones. so you get to stop thinking about it and just start at number

  1. a blue jay and a woodpecker. my morning raucous serenade.
  2. a hummingbird, one of the last of the hanger-on-ers of the season, shared a spot at the breakfast booth with me the other day.  sometimes, when the juice is running low, i wake up to the sound of one hovering beside my face while i’m still in bed, staring at me through the thin pane of glass. those tiny wings beat so fast that they make enough noise to wake me from sleep. the awesomeness of this is never lost on me.
  3. a butterfly hunt with Mr. Jones. we returned with a wooden basket bounty of a couple pinecones + a topless acorn + too many dead bumblebees ( what happened to the bees?) + a grey feather + roadside pebbles + some dismembered Red Admiral wings + a lot of Yellow Sulphurs + one recently injured but still very alive Monarch.
  4. buying nectarines + orange currant bread outside in the rain.
  5. the rain.
  6. i keep thinking about coyotes. all summer long they howl and yip such an eerie lullaby all around our caravan home. they stop us in our tracks. they’ve kept us from our sleep. but i never actually see them. part of me is cool with that. the other part of me begs for a glimpse. they’re so full of mystery and i’m so full of curiosity. the world is so full of amazing.
  7. while you and me were busy doing other things this morning – making lists, buying groceries, going to work, complaining about the weather – there were incredible things happening all around us. like babies being born. like one baby in particular…who was born probably right around the time i was picking out the nicest cauliflower from the Italian farmer guy at the market for only $2. amazing. i haven’t even met this babe yet but already i know i love him to the moon and back. the heart is tremendous like that. so are our days…there’s always more to them than just the cauliflower and the rain…
  8. …speaking of cauliflower…i can’t seem to eat my fill. i’m crushin’ on the cruciferous big time.
  9. there are three windows open on my computer screen tonight. one is this blog post page, words mid-composition. one is my partially filled out Visa application for Australia. the third is a stream of CBC news stories about refugees. there is an irony, a tragedy, an injustice, and a mash up of a million other feelings, that sit firmly between windows two and three. my privilege makes my heart ache. which leads me back to window one. right here. making a list because there’s nowhere else to begin.
  10. my sweetheart and i had a crazy idea. and we acted on it. and it worked. and that is one of the best feelings in the world. here’s to living out more crazy creative brilliance!
  11. more rain + this cozy sweater + a finished cup of hot chocolate + the close of a full day + the end of a list. oh, and this picture, because it brings me joy in every way.
  12. old brown guitar case

 

heap of thanks

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…can i just say thanks?

thanks to those of you who keep reading these pages, even when my scribbling is sporadic and my presence sparse.

thanks for spreading the word that this space exists. thanks for sharing links and passing my words along to your family and friends. thanks for giving my writing wings.

thanks for telling me that you keep checking in. that the words that i write mean something to you. that you want me to keep going.

really.

because i will always write. i don’t remember my life without the love of words. but sometimes i struggle to believe that people will want to read what i write. that it’s worth the energy and risk to make myself vulnerable and put it out in the world.

but when you tell me it is, when you write me and comment and come up to me on the street and let me know that it all matters to you, even means a lot…well, i believe you. and it helps me remember to be brave and keep going.

so thank you.

we all need each other, don’t we?

here’s to being brave.

xx

confession to the poet – pt 1.

when you speak, little bird,
i can’t look away. truth
grabs me by the ears and
won’t let go.

– for td

even in sleep your life will shine.

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after rainstorms
and lego;
after campfires
and wide-eyed wonder;
after fireflies lead me home
and crickets played my lullabye.
after lightening filled skies
after dancing butterflies
after generous friends
and a run of good luck;
after afternoon hugs
and honeybees,
after the water boiled
after i napped,
after two deer
and one wild turkey
and one more sun set,
and after the phone rang
after my belly was full
after the dog covered me with kisses
after we read Shel Silverstein
and we said goodnight
and i closed the door
and turned out the light
even then,
still then,
it wasn’t done yet.

These Things Are Your Becoming

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drifting in and out.
packing. sorting. purging.
letting go feels a little bit easier this time.
practice makes perfect. or something like that.

this spring brought its’ full share of sorrows.
forced to look the fear in the eye
again and again.
make the choice to see the beauty
and find the good
all the while
the heart
it breaks.
still learning to live with, and love, the questions.

making choices and changes
in hopes of bringing more
sun
more light
more space
into my life.
saying no to stuckness.
saying yes to all the things that make me feel alive.

it’s too short, this season of living.
even though, sometimes, the days feel so long.
these things are my becoming.
i want to live them all.

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Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

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